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The Search for Flight 370; Number of Missing Drop to 90 in Landslide; A History of Pilot Suicide; Daring Rescue

Aired March 26, 2014 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Good evening, everyone.

It is 11:00 here on the East Coast of the United States, 11:00 a.m. in Kuala Lumpur and in Western Australia.

There are new developments in the search for the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and new questions surrounding what appears to be a growing focus by Malaysian authorities on the flight crew, especially the 777's captain. And we're going to be very transparent about the reporting and the sourcing here, because it is important and there's a contradiction.

"USA Today" citing what they say is a high ranking, unnamed Malaysian law enforcement officer who says the captain of the flight, Zaharie Ahmed Shah, is believed to be solely responsible for the flight being taken off course.

Now, if that reporting is accurate, it raises all sorts of questions, not just about what actually happened aboard the flight, but also what the Malaysian investigators think happened, what they know happened. It's a window into where they could be taking the investigation and whether they might be jumping to conclusions.

Now, our panel tonight has a lot to say about that.

Also tonight, the race is on to locate and examine 122 pieces of debris that were reportedly spotted by a French satellite. The big question is this, after so many false leads, finally, is it a real lead, real hard evidence of what happened to the plane and the 239 people on board.

Is it debris from the plane?

There's that, but we begin with the flight crew and what American investigators have uncovered after analyzing the Captain Shah's home flight simulator, flies among -- among other things.

For the very latest on that, we're joined by justice correspondent Pamela Brown.

So, there's this "USA Today" report out there from one unnamed Malaysian source saying they're focusing on the pilot. I understand the FBI is expected to turn over hard drive information to the Malaysians in the next day or two.

What are your sources telling you about what they've uncovered?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, at this point, sources are telling me that they haven't found anything in the preliminary review of the captain and co-pilot's hard drive that, quote, "jumps out" at them and that they can grab onto that implicates the pilots in the plane's disappearance.

And a senior government official in Malaysia also told CNN that a police search of the pilot's home didn't turn up any evidence, such as suicide, such as a suicide note that would suggest financial, psychological problems, that kind of thing.

So sources are saying that investigators haven't found any concrete evidence that -- that suggests it was a premeditated act by the pilots. But at the same time, Anderson, they're not ruling out that theory, either. They just don't have the concrete evidence to conclusively back up any theory that's on the table.

They haven't found the plane and they haven't found a smoking gun in the pilots' and the passengers' backgrounds, according to sources.

COOPER: All right, so just to be clear, no concrete evidence indicating a motive. But investigators do continue to focus on the pilots as well as -- as other avenues of investigation?

BROWN: That's correct. So focusing on the pilots still a top priority. They're looking at them. They're digging into their backgrounds. There's still a keen interest in them. Of course it is, because, you know, they have -- considering their role in the plane, their expertise, they are a focus, just not the sole focus.

And investigators are also interviewing their family members. But it's important to keep this in mind, just for perspective here, Anderson, that it's still early on in this investigation.

I know we're a few weeks in and we're wanting answers here, but it is still early on. And there is no way that investigators have been able to turn over every clue in this investigation. There's still a lot to learn about these two men.

But as one official I spoke to earlier today said, they are victims until proven otherwise.

COOPER: And, of course, there's a lot to learn about the other passengers. There's a lot to learn about all aspects of this.

Pamela Brown, I appreciate your reporting.

I want to bring in our panel.

CNN safety analyst, David Soucie, author of "Why Planes Crash: An Accident Investigator's Fight for Safe Skies."

Also with us, 777 captain, Les Abend; CNN aviation correspondent, Richard Quest; and David Gallo, co-leader of the search for Air France Flight 447 and director of special projects at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Richard, OK, let's talk about this "USA Today" report. It's obviously natural to focus on the pilots, but essentially, "USA Today," based on one unnamed Malaysian source, is saying, well, it was the pilot who is the only one who could have done this, the most experienced, and therefore they're focusing on him.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The "USA Today" report is judge and jury, convicted and just throw away and lock away the key. In the last hour, one of the guests on our special program with Don Lemon, he -- one of our guests basically said his source in Malaysian, higher up in the police force had made it quite clear that there is no undue interest in one of the pilots. They're part of a wider investigation. They're obviously being looked at closely. But he completely and utterly denied this view that is out there.

So what we have really done, and Sara Sidner said in the last hour, as well, is we are now sort of really at the rampant stage of unnamed sources left and right choosing to leak...

COOPER: It's also a single source who may have their own reason...

QUEST: Absolutely.

COOPER: -- for saying that.

QUEST: Out of control.

COOPER: Les, the idea that the captain is the only one who could have the technical expertise to actually turn the plane, fly the plane like this, true?

LES ABEND, 777 CAPTAIN: I've got 22 year veteran co-pilots that would be turning over right now at just -- they -- they would be laughing.

This man was a veteran in of himself, 27 years old. It doesn't make any -- he was fresh out of initial training on the 777. He'd have much more retained than -- than perhaps the captain next to him. And putting in a simple course into the flight management computer or turning the airplane with heading select or manually flying, he's -- he's perfectly capable of doing that. That's why he's doing -- he's been eyeing for that job.

COOPER: David Soucie, what does it tell you that -- I mean Pamela Brown from (INAUDIBLE) from one Malaysian source but from U.S. sources has a very different read on the investigation than what this "USA Today," according to this Malaysian official, is telling you. Two different things, two different complete interpretations.

What -- does that tell you anything about the investigation or just the nature of the report?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, you know, all it tells you is that people are doing what's -- at this point, when you don't have a lot of evidence, what you do is you -- you try to come with a conclusion and instead of using that conclusion to help find the airplane, you say, well, I've got this conclusion, now all your facts line up and you twist the facts just a little bit or you over exaggerate or you try to find something that's in there to justify it and to justify in your head that, yes, that's the right conclusion.

But you have to bring yourself back from that. Forget about your past history.

COOPER: Right.

SOUCIE: Forget about what you've known or learned from previous investigations even. At some point, you have to just imagine or understand the unfathomable, what could have happened, and leave it at that.

COOPER: David Gallo, the idea -- you know, this 122 pieces of debris that we talked about at the top of the program, that was spotted in a French satellite image, has not been -- though people are on the scene and both the ship, the Australian Success, a naval vessel, and also multiple aircraft, they have not found any of these pieces of these 122, how significant do you think this is, this -- the idea of there being some sort of almost a debts field?

DAVID GALLO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, I think it's significant because there is some feeling that it must have come from the same place. So whether it's a ship or the aircraft, it's hard to say until they actually pick up a piece. And I find it hard to hope against the hopes and prayers of the families and loved ones of the passengers.

So, you know, and some part of me wants it to not to be from the plane. Other parts wants -- part of me wants it to, you know, get on with the investigation.

COOPER: David Gallo, David Soucie, I mean, the idea of it being together, could, A, indicate it came from a similar search, or, just given the nature of the currents in this region, it could just be a nature of, I mean, the way garbage collects in the sea around here.

GALLO: Yes, well, and it does. But I think that's an advantage, because now we know where it's gathering, so if there was debris in the area, then those currents would bring it into that debris view field, as well. So you may very well have other debris in there. I would suspect that you would.

But you're also going to have good debris if it's in that area. It's going to circle it around and kind of round the wagons up.

But what I'm most impressed about about these video -- these views, the statistics of having a 75 to 78 foot object in this picture and in previous pictures and previous pictures that are -- if you draw a line between the three of them, it kind of makes a flow as to where it moved from.

So I think we're looking at, within that picture, I think we're looking at that same 78 foot object, which I suspect is a wing.

COOPER: And yet, Richard, nothing has been found. I mean with all the resources that are out there -- and I know we've had -- there have been a lot of weather issues. There have been, you know, rough swells.

QUEST: Oh, no, but they -- they're getting a lot closer to finding something.


QUEST: You know, these pictures aside, the number of planes -- eight, nine, 10 planes, the ships in the water, they are now methodically combing through the seas, plowing up and down,

So I'm not as disa -- discouraged. They are getting on with the job. This is the human work of trying to find something. It's slow. It's drudgery. But they will find something if it is there.

And that's not just a cliche, Anderson. They're doing it in this methodical way specifically for that purpose. They'll find it.

COOPER: We're going to continue the conversation throughout the hour. There's a lot more to cover, including the challenges of carrying out this search in one of the remotest parts of the planet. We're going to talk to an Australian captain who's in charge of a vessel on the scene.

Later, you'll watch what a construction worker did in Houston, as this building went up in flames all around him and hear from the firefighter who was on the ladder that you're able to see reaching out to try to help this construction worker and help save his life. It's an incredible story, a rescue story, coming up ahead.


COOPER: Welcome back.

The search has resumed for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in the Southern Indian Ocean with aircraft and ships looking for any sign of the objects spotted in satellite images so far, those 122 objects we've talked about.

No objects, of course, have actually been found. The search area itself is more than 600,000 square miles and even getting to to the point of the ocean is a challenge.

Tom Foreman now joins me with details -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, they have assembled quite a fleet to look for this missing plane in that southern area -- 11 aircraft, five ships from all these different countries. And yet, even with state-of-the-art technology, this remains a gargantuan task. And if you look at the map, you can see why.

Look at the distance from Perth out to where this latest debris was spotted. That's almost 1,600 miles, which means just getting back and forth taxes this whole fleet before they even get to the job over searching.

Let me show you what that means.

The overall southern search area continues to be about 621,000 square miles. That means that on a good day, what they've been able to search out here is actually only about 5 percent.

So it would take them 20 days, if everything goes right, to search this entire sector. That's a huge job.

But let's narrow it down to just that area which -- which holds -- it's about 12 and a half miles by 12 and a half miles, or around the size of Denver, Colorado.

Think about this. If you were taking off from Washington, DC with a search crew every morning, flying all the way across the country out to Colorado and then you were flying down to Denver and your job, once you got to the city, was to try to narrow in, to pick out a single mailbox or trash can, or even a car, which would be relatively big, think about how difficult that would be if you only had maybe two, maybe three hours, of flying over the city, maybe in dicey weather, before you have to fly right back up into the sky and back to Washington to refuel and rest a little and start another day. That's why this remains a very daunting job -- Anderson.

COOPER: It does give us a sense of the distances we're talking about.

Back now with our panel, CNN safety analyst, David Soucie; CNN aviation correspondent, Richard Quest; David Gallo, co-leader of the search for Air France Flight 447 and director of special projects the at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; and CNN aviation analyst Les Abend, a 777 pilot.

David Soucie, you talked to someone you know, an auditor who was at the facility where 370 -- the same facility that 370 would have been stored at, who actually had some disturbing discoveries about how the pingers that would be in the black boxes were actually stored.

SOUCIE: Yes, he contacted me and said I have some information to tell you about. And I get a lot of that on Twitter. So I checked it out and I finally called him back, because he had some credible information. So he said to me -- and it was very disturbing -- he said to me that while he was at the audit, while he was doing the audit, that the pingers were stored in a hot, humid room.

COOPER: This was in a...


COOPER: -- a warehouse in Malaysia?

SOUCIE: Yes, exactly. So these pingers -- remember, they're sensitive to water, they're sensitive to that. So the manufacturer says you need to store them in a dry, room temperature, 70 degree, 85 degrees at the most, or in a refrigerator.

So he writes this up and he says, you know, we can't do this anymore, you guys need to fix it. So they did. They got rid of the -- OK, they got rid of these pingers. They put in all new pingers in the refrigerator while he was there as the auditor and everything was great, he checks it off the list.

Now he tells me after that that process is not being followed. He's seen, countless times, these pingers back in those rooms, back where they were before...

COOPER: So the...

SOUCIE: -- (INAUDIBLE) process.

COOPER: The concern could be that a pinger that doesn't have a full battery life would be put on board a plane...

SOUCIE: Exactly.

COOPER: -- (INAUDIBLE) one of these black boxes?

SOUCIE: The ones that they threw away, the ones that they took off the shelves and threw away had less than half life in them. So what I...

COOPER: And there's no way to test a -- the battery life of these devices before putting them on the airplane?

SOUCIE: No. At the sea check, which is every 1,000 hours on this airplane, the sea check, they do test them to see if it pings. They have a way to test it to see if it pings, which it would.

But you -- there's no way to test the -- like put a load on it, like you would test your car battery...

COOPER: Right.

SOUCIE: -- to see if it's good. You can't put a load on this thing and see if it's going to be good for 30 days or not. So I'm concerned that if these others were at half life, if one of those bad ones, if one had been stored improperly and were put into this aircraft at the last sea check, it's very possible that it could be done by now.

COOPER: So the idea is that it wouldn't even be lasting the 30 days.

David Gallo, you know, the pingers obviously weren't going off in Air France Flight 447, given the amount of time it took to actually find where the aircraft was on the bottom of the sea, at 13,000 feet.

So how complex a task is it then, without pingers, to locate these things?

Is it just a question of searching like a grid, searching every place?

GALLO: Yes, as long as you've got a place to start, Anderson, it's methodically searching. So you're running back and forth, lines -- plowing the field, and hoping that you don't go over a spot, think the aircraft is not there and go onto the spot. You don't want to miss it if it's sitting right below you.

COOPER: Unless -- I mean I know we -- I talked to David about this in the previous hour, that after the Air France crash, there were new safety guidelines about the length of time that a pinger would be able to go, for 90 days. But that's only in new aircraft from 2015 on. The old aircraft, it wasn't retrofitted that way.

GALLO: Correct. That's -- that's my understanding, yes.

COOPER: Right. That's the way -- and so it's only aircraft that are being released after 2015?

SOUCIE: I even looked for a notice of proposed rulemaking with the FAA, with ACOA (ph), with everyone else. You know, they're a civil aviation organization, and said, are you going to mandate that these be retrofit?

And I can't find anything on it. If anybody else does, please let me know. But right now, all they did is say whoever manufactures these has to make sure they do 90 days for -- from 2015 forward.

COOPER: Richard, you're optimistic. I mean we talked about this in the last break. You're -- you're sort of more optimistic that some -- that this debris will be found, that something will be found, because I mean these...

QUEST: Oh, yes. Yes, I am...


QUEST: -- I'm optimistic because they will just keep going. Now, look, they may have to suspend it for the winter not -- although they won't be doing that for some time. But they will just keep going.

The lessons have to be learned from what's happened. I'll give you an example. 447, Air France, was seminal in terms of what took place, because they learned so much about how pilots reacted, the so- called startle effect, the so-called -- all these things how piloting airmanship and all those sort of issues that were raised in that but haven't been fully implemented.

I guarantee you this one is going to be the test case. This is going into the books even beforehand, not a -- not because of what may have happened on the plane. We don't even know that. We may not know that for months, if not years. But simply for the fact that they could not and cannot find debris, find the plane and have such a paucity of information three weeks on.

And that's why this is -- this is already in the books. COOPER: And David Soucie, you've done investigating. I mean there hasn't been one like this.

SOUCIE: No, never. Never. But what I wanted to point out was, though, we can't forget that we're learning things now, too. I don't want to discount that. Because if we -- all we do is say the goal is to do this, then we stagnate. We -- if we say, well, if we don't find what we're looking for, we can't learn from this.

But we can. I mean look what we just learned about the pinger...

COOPER: Right.

SOUCIE: -- about where they're stored, what's going on. You know, we have to speculate. We have to come up with these ideas so that we can determine, first of all, where the aircraft is. But we can't stop the speculation after that as hard -- painful as it is for the families.

COOPER: Well, I mean that's what investigators...


COOPER: -- I mean, you know, it's one thing for people in the media to be going over theories. This is what investigators are doing. I mean investigators are sitting around running through every scenario.

SOUCIE: I mean it's a crude terminology. It's called tombstone technology. Unfortunately, we learned this from these tragedies, but we do learn something, so these people have not gone on, you know, or died in vain. And it's very, very important that we find it so we -- so this never happens again.

COOPER: And David Gallo, I mean, again, from that debris, I know you were working under the water on 447, but it is fascinating to me that even with some piece of debris, you can start to understand what happened -- maybe what happened to the aircraft based on stresses put on the debris, based on marks on the debris.

GALLO: Yes. We learned an awful lot from the debris in Air France 447. We could tell that all the pieces aft of the wing section were compressed, like the -- and everything forward of that was relatively in great shape, so it gave us the idea that the plane belly-smacked tail first.

So there's all sorts of things you can learn just -- everything is a piece of evidence, Anderson, so, you know, you've got to get whatever you can out of every piece that's collected.

COOPER: Well, David -- David Gallo, it's good to have you on; David Soucie, Les Abend, Richard Quest, as well.

For more on the story, you can go to, of course.

Up next, one woman's incredible story of survival in we Washington State in the midst of that deadly landslide. She was in her home when the landslide hit, ripped her home off the foundations, carried the home a quarter of a mile. She was buried in mud, encased in mud. She got out. You'll hear how she got out.

Also, new details on the desperate rescue of a 4-year-old child stuck in the mud after a landslide destroyed his home. You see him being carried out there, on the left-hand side of your screen.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: We have breaking news tonight regarding the deadly landslide in Washington State. We know 16 people are now confirmed dead. Officials say eight other people have been located. Their bodies have been located, but not yet recovered.

They also now report that the number of people missing or unaccounted for has dropped to 90.

Today, the governor of Washington said the area suffered what he called 100 percent devastation.

Now, last night, we told you about the rescue of a 4-year-old boy on Saturday. Tonight, they've released incredible video of the rescue from a camera mounted on a helicopter, which couldn't land and had to hover over the scene. You see the first responder there in a black shirt on the left, securing the child, carrying him to the helicopter.

Here's the same video with the boy -- his name is Jacob Spillers -- highlighted by the circle in the upper left part of the screen as rescer -- researchers rescued him. Officials tell us that Jacob was upstairs when the landslide struck his home. His father and three siblings are still missing. Jacob's mother is OK. She was not home at the time.

For many of the firefighters and the rescuers, though, who are -- rescuers who are digging through the mud, the stress on this is mounting.


JEFF MCCLELLAN, FIREFIGHTER: We were digging. We come across a gentleman. And his son is out there as a civilian on the debris pile. And it's his father.


COOPER: Well, despite all the stress, all the danger for those rescuers, they're not giving up.

Gary Tuchman joins us from Darrington, Washington with more of the breaking news -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the beginning of this everything, the number of missing was pegged at 176. But we knew it was a fluid number that would likely go lower. Indeed, it has gone lower, but it's still alarmingly high, partially because it's not as fluid of a number.

Ninety people are now considered missing. Ninety people are considered unknown, their whereabouts. In addition to that, another 35 people are categorized as status unknown. Status unknown means people say well, my cousin or an aunt or an uncle or a boyfriend or a girlfriend, we think might have been in the area.

Either way, 125 people, authorities are concerned about. But 90 of those people they are extremely concerned about.

Now, while we talk about these numbers, it's important to stress that at this point, nobody has abandoned the search for any potential survivors.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): The top priority is still the search for survivors. And firefighters we've talked to who've spent much of the day at the decimated landslide scene say they have not given up on that quest.

JAN MCCLELLAN, FIREFIGHTER: That miracle can happen. We live for that hope. We really live for that hope.

TUCHMAN: But this has been a disappointing day here in Snohomish County, Washington, with no survivors found. The rescue and recovery work is being done with choppers and police dogs, bulldozers, shovels, and even by hand. Dozens of structures buried in up to 40 feet of mud, mud that, in many places, is like quicksand, which limits people's ability to work effectively and even to recover bodies.

STEVE MASON, OPERATIONS SECTION CHIEF: When we first got here, crews went out and hit the hot spots. You know, there's a house roof here, OK, let's get in through the roof, go down through, work on that house and see who's in there, if there's anybody in there. As you continue along, you step back and you do a more comprehensive search, you know, because now you're looking for the stuff that doesn't jump off the (INAUDIBLE).

TUCHMAN (on camera): The main highway that goes through the affected communities of Oso and Darrington remains shut off. For the time being, the general public and even residents are being kept out, while emergency vehicles go in and out.

(voice-over): The recovery of bodies will continue, as will, for now, the continued search for people who may be trapped and alive.

ERIC FINZIMER, FIREFIGHTER: But we can't lose hope for anybody in this community. That's not what we're here for. We're here to find those people.


COOPER: And you see the stress on those first responders. This is dangerous work for them. I mean the conditions are very difficult. I know it was raining, I think it was last night. It's tough out there.

TUCHMAN: Yes, no, it's really treacherous, Anderson. And it's raining right now, again. There's a lot of rain, which causes problems. In addition to that, geologists are keeping a careful eye on any problems with the land, the topography, to make sure there's not another mudslide.

But even if the situation is fine with the land, the problem is, is that you literally have mountains that are up to 40 feet tall. And these are not mountains of sturdy ground, these are mountains of mud that are like quicksand. And if you step in the wrong place, you could end up plunging 40 feet down.

So it really is a very dangerous assignment for the emergency workers who have been there the last several days.

COOPER: Yes, it's amazing what they're doing.

Gary, appreciate the reporting.

I want you to meet Robin Youngblood.

She lost her home in the landslide. She was bruised, but she made it out alive. She was pulled from the rubble by a rescuer, Randy Fay. They gave each other a big hug when they were finally reunited today.

I speak with Robin Youngblood earlier tonight.


COOPER: Robin, first of all, I'm so glad that you are OK.

Walk us through what happened Saturday morning. I understand you were sitting in your living room with a friend. All of a sudden, you heard this huge roar.

ROBIN YOUNGBLOOD, LANDSLIDE SURVIVOR: Yes. I've never heard anything like it before. I said, what the heck is that?

And we walked over to the window. There was a wall of -- it took me a second to realize it was mud and it was recognize like 150 miles an hour across the far end of the valley. And I said, oh, my god, and then it hit us.

COOPER: What happened when it hit you?

I mean what did it -- what did it feel like?

Did you -- could you actually see the mud as it -- as it came up to the house?

YOUNGBLOOD: I didn't see it hit us. It hit so fast that we went down. We were under water and mud and we had mud in every orifice. And the house was moving. And I just remember thinking, OK, creator, if this is it, I might as well relax. And I just let myself go limp.

COOPER: How long did it go on for?

YOUNGBLOOD: It couldn't have been more than 30 seconds.

COOPER: That fast.


YOUNGBLOOD: From the time it hit us until we landed.

COOPER: And I understand it actually ripped your house off the foundation.

YOUNGBLOOD: My house is match sticks. There's nothing left. It ripped the roof off. And that's -- I thank God for that, because if the roof had still been on, the house filled up with mud and water. We would have drowned. The only way we got out is we dug the stuff out of our nose and mouth so we could breath. But I was able to pick my way through debris and get up to the top and call for my friend, Yeti, from Holland, my student who was with me for a week. And she was pinned under a tree that had fallen. And I couldn't get to her. There was nothing stable to stand on. So I just yelled at her to dig herself out somehow, even if she was hurt, better to be hurt and alive, because I could see that the house was going to fill up with mud.

COOPER: So you were actually, I mean, underneath the mud?

I mean you were completely covered?

YOUNGBLOOD: Yes. There wasn't a dry place on my body when we got in the ambulance. They had us strip down. Everything was sodden. We were in hypothermia by that time.

COOPER: And I understand the house was actually moved a long distance.

How -- about how far?

YOUNGBLOOD: A quarter of a mile.

COOPER: That's an extraordinary thing. Your house was moved a quarter of a mile in a very brief amount of time. I mean you -- you are so lucky to be alive.

YOUNGBLOOD: Don't I know it. I have no idea how that happened. And I have a hurt finger and lots of bruises and a torqued back, but no broken bones. God knows how that happened.

COOPER: You bought, I understand, your house two years ago.

Did anyone warn you at the time that this mountain was unstable?

Because I've talked to geologists who did studies, you know, back in 1999 about this area.

Did anyone warn you?

YOUNGBLOOD: Nobody ever told us that there were geology reports. I heard on King 5 last night, they asked somebody from the county zoning commission. And the guy said, well, yes, that report was there, but I guess we never read it.

Nobody told any of us. This is criminal, as far as I'm concerned.

COOPER: I also understand that you...

YOUNGBLOOD: And that's why I'm really glad talking to you.


YOUNGBLOOD: Because I know that you help with things like this.

COOPER: And you helped take care of a little boy, a boy named Jacob, who's four years old. He was rescued. You were there right after, I understand, he was pulled out of the mud, brought to the ambulance.

How do you -- I mean you talked about comforting people in a case like this.

What do you say to him?

YOUNGBLOOD: The minute I saw him, I said, oh, my god, "How old are you, Jacob?"

He said, "Four."

I said, "What's your last name?"

He didn't know.

I said, "Honey, I'm a grandma, I'll take care of you until we figure this out."

I stripped his clothes off. I put him in a big blanket and I held him all the way until they found his mother. I sang him songs and I just tried to help him stay calm.

COOPER: Well, robin, thank you for your strength and for talking to us. And I'm just so sick about what has happened to everybody there. And our thoughts and our prayers are with all the survivors and all those who are looking for those who are unaccounted for.

Thank you, Robin.

YOUNGBLOOD: Thank you so much, Anderson.

Thank you for doing what you do. (END VIDEO TAPE)

COOPER: We had to edit that interview for time, but you can watch the entire interview with robin on our Web site, at And if you want to help the landslide victims, go to There's a number of organizations listed there. And robin talks about that, as well.

Up next, the concept of pilot suicide in the investigation of 370. We're going to talk more about the one idea that investigators are looking at, that one or somehow both of the pilots aboard Flight 370 purposely crashed the jet.

Also ahead, we'll hear from the firefighter who rescued this man from this incredible fire and just within seconds was able to save his life.


COOPER: Breaking news tonight, conflicting reports on what role, if any, the pilots of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 may have played in the airliner's disappearance.

Now, as we told you about at the top of the program, and we want to be very transparent about the sourcing on all of this, "USA Today" is reporting that a high-ranking Malaysian police officer said investigators believe the pilot is to blame and they're ruling out the co-pilot, simply saying the pilot was the only one who had the experience and the knowledge to do this.

CNN's sources say that investigators have not reached that conclusion. Unfortunately, however, there have been instances when commercial airline pilots have intentionally crashed their jets, killing everyone on board.

Randi Kaye takes a look back.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A regularly scheduled flight from Los Angeles International Airport to Cairo, Egypt, with a stop at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. That was the plan for EgyptAir Flight 990. But on October 31st, 1999, the Boeing 767 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean about 60 miles off the coast of Massachusetts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I lost contact with the Boeing 767 in my air space.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I mean we lost radar. We lost everything.

KAYE: Crash investigators say the co-pilot had learned he was being demoted and took control of the plane when the captain stepped out of the cockpit, sending it into a nose dive toward the ocean. The cockpit voice recorder revealed the co-pilot repeated "I rely on God" 11 times just before the crash.

The captain can be heard on the recorder saying "What's happening?"

Even more chilling, the last words heard are the captain saying, "Pull with me" as he struggled to get his plane to change course. In that instant, the co-pilot turns off the engine, sending the aircraft slamming into the sea.

All 217 people on board were killed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any luck with EgyptAir?




KAYE (on camera): With EgyptAir, the transponder stopped working and there was no mayday call. The NTSB ruled the co-pilot intentionally crashed the plane, though Egyptian authorities still say it was a mechanical failure.

KIT DARBY, RETIRED COMMERCIAL AIRLINE PILOT: Certainly, pilots are part of the potential for the problem. So they have to be looked at. But basically, it's not a guilty until proven innocent, really. I mean, because there's only a few sources that could cause this type of problem, someone outside the cockpit and certainly the people inside the cockpit.

KAYE (voice-over): A suicidal pilot was also to blame for this, December 1997, the crash of SilkAir Flight 185. It was heading from Jakarta, Indonesia to Singapore when it crashed into this river.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It sounded like a bomb, like a bomb dropping. The first explosion up in the air, then it exploded again, then it crashed into the water.

KAYE: The plane dropped into the river in less than a minute, breaking the speed of sound and killing all 104 passengers and crew. The NTSB concluded that the pilot deliberately directed the flight to crash.

In Indonesia, they claim the findings are inconclusive.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Well, it certainly is a troubling and perhaps remote possibility, but one that has to be explored by investigators.

Joining us, two pilots who are both CNN aviation analysts, 777 captain, Les Abend, and Miles O'Brien.

Does that make sense in any way, that a suicide pilot or co-pilot would be involved in this?

LES ABEND, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: I mean why do it in the middle of nowhere?

It just doesn't make sense. I would have done it after takeoff. My understanding is that there's one of the world's biggest buildings and towers in Kuala Lumpur.

Why not do it going into Beijing?

COOPER: You know, I mean, Miles, others would say, well, perhaps you wanted to go to a deeper area. The waters in the Gulf of Thailand were very low. But pilot suicide, as we talked about in that EgyptAir disaster off Nantucket back in the late '90s, that was shortly into the flight, correct?

I mean the Malaysia Airlines flight, if the information is accurate, I mean they went on, you know, for hours well off course.

Does that line up with the theory of suicide?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, what's interesting about this, if you look back at the EgyptAir 990 story, there was a lot of recriminations that were focused on the family of the first officer, who was implicated by the NTSB on a suicide mission. Of course, the Egyptians deny it all.

So what we're talking about here is the possibility -- and, again, remember, we're not saying this is what happened, but the possibility that there was a suicidal crew member who might have been worried about some sort of stigma associated with suicide, particularly in the Malaysian culture. If you wanted to commit suicide in such a way that you couldn't be implicated, this would be a way to do it.

COOPER: Going to a very far, remote area...

O'BRIEN: Right.

COOPER: -- where the difficulty of actually finding the aircraft.

O'BRIEN: Exactly. Exactly.

COOPER: What kind of -- Les, what kind of psychological screening do pilots undergo?

ABEND: Well, we go under -- most of the screening occurs at the time you're an applicant for the airline. The airlines do a good job of vetting people and a very similar type people.

Now, you know, as we get on with the airline and go through our careers, there isn't a whole lot, unless there's something affecting our job performance.

COOPER: I would imagine other pilots, co-workers, keep an eye out for any anomalies or anything like that.

ABEND: We watch each other's backs. We really do.


And, Miles, it is important to point out, like everything else, this is just something that investigators are looking at. Because, again, without, I mean, a suicide note, these pilots could have just as well have been heroes trying to stop this plane from going in the water, as something more nefarious.

O'BRIEN: There is a scenario you can add to the list where somehow they were commandeered, the flight was commandeered, somebody in the back of the plane decided to hijack it. And for whatever reason, the pilots were able to either dupe the hijacker or somehow take control of the plane in some way. But perhaps they thought there was a bomb on board and the safe thing to do was to park it in the ocean...

COOPER: Yes, so we really don't know.

O'BRIEN: -- like Shanksville, PA.

COOPER: Yes, we simply don't know. I mean, again, Les Abend, appreciate it.

Miles O'Brien.

Up next, a remarkable rescue caught on video. An apartment building under construction in Houston went up in flames. A worker trapped on a balcony with the flames fast approaching.

We're going to show you more of the video and we're going to talk with a firefighter who is out on that ladder there, desperately trying to get to this construction worker in time. It's an extraordinary story ahead.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They need to get him.



COOPER: For weeks now, we've been covering the search for the missing plane. There's so much heartache and mystery. And we'll continue to search for answers.

But right now, we want to bring you a story that does have a happy ending, a story of survival. It's a daring rescue caught on camera. If you haven't seen the video before, I hope you're sitting down, because it is remarkable to see. Just to set the scene, an apartment under construction in Houston was on fire a construction worker was trapped on a balcony. A woman in a nearby office building grabbed her cell phone and started taking video. It needs no narration, just the raw video tells the rest of the story.

Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was inside there.

Do they fricking see him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're getting him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, look at this...




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, God, oh, God, oh, God, oh, God. Oh, my God.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, no. Oh, no. Oh, no.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at the glass melting up there.

See that window melting?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They need to get him. Oh, Jesus. Oh, God. Oh, God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get closer to him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hell, he can jump from there. I mean, good grief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I could -- I'd be jumping, man.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look. Look. Look. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They need to move that truck up. Oh, my God.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that we probably should be going.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's about time to evacuate, I guess.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go to for it, man.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hell, yes. Oh, thank Jesus. Thank you, God.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know how they can see.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God. Oh, no, my God.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey -- hey, what about this guy?

What about this guy?



COOPER: It's just extraordinary. Remarkably, no one was hurt in the fire. The firefighter who is on the end of that ladder and helped rescue the construction worker is Senior Captain Brad Hawthorne of the Houston Fire Department.

And he joins me tonight.

Captain, this rescue is just extraordinary.

When the video starts, how long had the fire been going on about at that point?

CAPTAIN BRAD HAWTHORNE, HOUSTON FIRE DEPARTMENT: Not long. We was -- we pulled up and there wasn't much fire, but that fire run through the whole building within just a couple of minutes.

COOPER: It moved that fast?

HAWTHORNE: It moved extremely fast. The fastest-moving fire I've ever been to.

COOPER: When you arrived on the scene and your team arrived on the scene, I mean were you immediately aware that this construction worker was trapped up there?

HAWTHORNE: Well, we had reports. Our chief told us to go to the north side of the building, there was three men trapped on the roof. So we got there, positioned the ladder truck and got the ladder set up to the roof when we started noticing we only had a small -- we had a small amount of fire on the left side, climbed -- about halfway up the ladder, I noticed the whole attic roof was on fire. And then just seconds later, by the time I get to the top of the ladder, the entire roof was completely involved in fire.

COOPER: And was it moving that fast because of the winds?

Or what -- I mean why was it moving so fast?

HAWTHORNE: The wind and just the construction. It was really fast. It was faster than I had expected.

COOPER: And you're on the edge of the ladder, right?

HAWTHORNE: Right, yes.

COOPER: So we see the ladder going toward the guy.

Were you afraid that he would jump or something before you reached him?

HAWTHORNE: It was always possible. I mean, if it gets hot enough, most people will jump before they'll burn.

COOPER: That ladder looks like it's moving pretty fast. That must be pretty -- I mean you're obviously experienced, but that's got to be pretty frightening, to be out on an extended ladder like that moving fast.

HAWTHORNE: Well, it's not typically a practice we like doing, except under emergency situations, is moving a ladder with guys on it. But, you know, it's a -- we knew that seconds counted on this one.

COOPER: And the ladder couldn't get all the way to where the construction worker was, right?

I mean there's a limit to how far it can go.

HAWTHORNE: We got it over to him and we were just about a couple of feet short. And that's when I told him to hold up at first, so he wouldn't jump until we got it to the right point. Then I waved him to come on. And that's when I kind of got up there, gave him a little room and he jumped over. And I kind of grabbed him as quick as I could, so he wouldn't -- so he didn't slip. And then my chauffeur at the time, he started to move the ladder to the right, to get us away from the wall. And then within five seconds, that's when the wall fell, the roof and the whole fifth floor collapsed.

COOPER: Did the guy say anything to you when he finally made it on the ladder?

HAWTHORNE: Oh, yes. Well, we kind of looked at each other, slapped each other's hands, smiled and, thank you, Jesus.

COOPER: I can imagine.


COOPER: And how is he doing, do you know?

HAWTHORNE: It was close. He's doing fine. He's doing fine. We seen him after all this was over. I'd have probably been more shook up. He was calm, cool, collected through the whole thing. And he's doing real good now. He was even back to work two hours later.

COOPER: And, I mean, again, we're just watching this building collapse as you're pulling away. It's just incredible.

When it starts to collapse, can you tell the building is falling?

I don't know where you were looking, but do you see it coming toward you?

HAWTHORNE: You could hear it all. You could hear the cracking and the popping of the fire, the breaking boards. And it just did get louder right for an instant. And then you could feel the heat. Then we was swinging to the right, which -- it kept us out of the fire and it saved us. My chauffeur, he did a good job moving you the out, getting us out of the heat.

COOPER: Well, I mean it's -- you all did an incredible job. And I mean I hope you get a beer or something after this.

I mean what -- how do you even -- how do you relax after this?

I mean it's so stressful, just watching, I'm getting nervous.

HAWTHORNE: Right. It's a -- it can be scary. But, you know, we train a lot. And we try to do it just where it's, you know, I guess it's hard to explain it.

COOPER: You're just doing your job.

HAWTHORNE: It's just human nature, I guess.


HAWTHORNE: It's just -- yes, you're doing the job and making it really, you know, it just happens.

COOPER: Well, I'm glad you're out there. And I'm sure a lot of people in Houston are, as well.

Thank you so much for all you do.

HAWTHORNE: Thank you.

COOPER: It's just an amazing story and a heroic effort by Captain Brad Hawthorne and the rest of the Houston Fire Department.

The work the firefighters do is extraordinary. From that rescue in Texas, the firefighters were working the scene of the devastating landslide in Washington State risking their own lives to save others. And we think about them tonight.

Some breaking news out of Boston today. At least two firefighters died, 13 others were injured, in a fast-moving nine alarm fire at a brownstone in the Back Bay neighborhood west of downtown. As of now, we don't know what caused that fire. And our hearts really go out to Boston Fire Department, the families, the firefighters who died, Michael Kennedy and Ed Walsh.

We'll be right back.